MOOCs stir up controversy at catholic colleges

As massive open online courses, or MOOCs, continue to expand across the globe, colleges and universities are taking note. In fact, many schools have already joined forces with top MOOC providers in an effort to expand their own reach or make higher education more attainable, CityTownInfo reports.

However, one prominent sector of higher education has been reluctant to jump on the MOOC bandwagon, regardless of its popularity. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the nearly 250 Roman Catholic colleges and universities in the United States have maintained a watchful eye on MOOC mania from a distance.

That was, of course, until Georgetown University broke the trend by partnering with online education platform, edX. And, not everyone is happy about it.

As the Cardinal Newman Society recently noted, Georgetown University is the first Catholic college known to embrace the use of MOOCs. And although the move may have been inevitable, many believe that massive open online courses don’t align with the Catholic vision for higher education as a whole. It is often argued that MOOCs cheapen the learning experience by depriving students of the face-to-face attention that they deserve.

And recently, Jonathan Malesic, an associate professor of theology at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., shared his views on MOOCs from a Catholic perspective. In the Chronicle of Higher Education, he stated that “education is a moral enterprise that develops human dignity and promotes social justice,” adding that MOOCs actually undermine these goals.

And although Malesic does believe that MOOCs could provide a valuable service to students who suffer from poverty or are unable to attend college courses due to their remote location, he believes that they are being underutilized for that purpose.

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